Harris enters the spotlight on abortion and firearms

 April 17, 2023

In recent weeks, Vice President Harris has found herself at the heart of many important policy pushes and national discussions.

This has provided her with a large platform as she and President Biden prepare to launch a reelection campaign together, according to The Hill. When Harris returned from her trip to Africa at the end of last month, she was the highest-ranking official from the Biden administration to ever visit the continent.

The previous week, she hurriedly planned a trip to Nashville in response to the expulsion of two Black Democrats from the Tennessee senate for their participation in demonstrations against gun violence.

Harris standing for abortion

And Harris has once again found herself in the position of being the administration's main voice on safeguarding reproductive rights in the face of a judge's verdict against a common abortion medication and a Florida ban on the operation after six weeks of pregnancy. Both of these decisions were made in Florida.

“I’ve been thrilled to see her in the spotlight on these two issues in particular over the past couple of weeks here. And it makes sense as we’re really starting to focus on the reelection campaign here,” said David Thomas, a Democratic strategist who was an aide to then-Vice President Al Gore.

“These are two issues, guns and abortion, that are really such stark contrasts between Democrats and Republicans, and the fact she’s out there being really active on these outside of Washington, D.C., is exactly where she should be,” Thomas added.

The vice president was thrust into the foreign policy spotlight at the end of last month when she visited Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia on a one-week mission to Africa.

The presence of Harris was intended to reaffirm the Biden administration's commitment to the continent, and it was supported by billions of dollars in government and private sector investments in enhancing economic opportunities for women and efforts to adapt to a changing climate.

For Harris, who is the first African American woman to serve as vice president, the voyage took on a personal tone. Following a tour of an ancient slave trading post in Ghana, she delivered somber remarks about the necessity of remembering and learning from the past.

VP's position in international politics

Harris was thrust into the center of a major national news story upon her return to the United States, when she flew to Nashville with short notice to meet with the "Tennessee Three," three state lawmakers who were targeted for expulsion for protesting gun violence on the state House floor following a school shooting.

Former government officials were particularly impressed with how quickly the travel was organized, as Harris was speaking with Tennessee legislators within twenty-four hours of the expulsion vote.

A federal magistrate invalidated the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval of mifepristone, a popular abortion medication. The Justice Department appealed the decision, and the Supreme Court issued a temporary stay on Friday afternoon.

In the meantime, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate, signed a moratorium on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, despite the fact that many women do not realize they are pregnant at that point. Advocates are concerned that the Florida law will severely restrict abortion access throughout the South.

Harris hosted a meeting of the White House's reproductive health care task force on Wednesday to discuss methods to safeguard patient privacy. On Saturday, she spoke at a pro-reproductive rights rally in Los Angeles.

Tuesday, she will travel to Nevada for a panel discussion with actress Rosario Dawson and Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve about the impact of the fight for abortion access on young Americans.


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